Aug. 17 (UPI) -- China on Thursday sentenced three pro-democracy former student leaders to prison, which bans them from public office for five years.
China's Court of Appeal on Thursday supported the Chinese government's bid for harsher punishments against the pro-democracy leaders, who were found guilty in July 2016 of unlawful assembly for a 2014 incident.
Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Nathan Law Kwun-chung were initially sentenced to serve community service, and Alex Chow Yong-kang was given a suspended three-week jail sentence.
Thursday, Wong, 20, was sentenced to six months, Chow, 26, to seven months, and Law, 24, who was also found guilty of inciting others to participate in unlawful assembly, to eight months.
The former students were arrested in September 2014 after they attempted to reclaim Hong Kong's Civic Square protest location, which is outside government headquarters. In the incident, protesters stormed the government building and clashed with police.
The incident occurred two days prior to the start of Occupy Central, a series of pro-democratic protests in 2014 that lasted 79 days, that is also known as the Umbrella Revolution. Protesters called for negotiations with Chinese authorities to establish democratic rules in how Hong Kong chooses its leaders.
China's Democratic Party condemned the ruling on Thursday.
"It is a shame that while the government has not taken any substantive action to mend the divide, political prosecutions have led to a group of young people being put behind bars," the party said.